House of Detention
Developer: Aniki, Male Union
Publisher: Dungeon Master
Genre: Indie, Meme, Horror
Platform: PC (Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: 29/May/2020
A code was provided for review purposes
House of Detention is not quite the game it promises to be at first glance. In the Steam store, the game markets itself as a horror title. It boasts features such as ‘a deep plot’, ‘great sound effects’ and is described as a ‘unique horror’. In retrospect, I think these brags were probably made tongue-in-cheek since House of Detention turned out to be a meme game.
In at the Deep End
When I opened House of Detention for its maiden voyage, a message popped up on the screen with lots of information. The thing that caught my eye first was a bullet point mentioning which versions of the game are safe for streaming. And what is the reason given? Characters are wearing clothes in those versions. It was at this point that I began to wonder what on earth I was about to review.
To be honest, it didn’t get any better from there. (I should add in a little warning before we carry on: although there is no age recommendation given on Steam, the content of this game seems very adult to me and therefore younger eyes should take care from here on forward.) The last bullet point on the intro message advised me to look up the ‘Gachimuchi meme’ if I wasn’t familiar with it. This I duly did since I had no idea what it was. Again, I paused and wondered, what on EARTH am I about to play?
Once I got rid of the notice, I was left with the title screen. The scene looks like it takes place in a dungeon. You see four characters, Donald Trump, Barrack Obama, Vladimir Putin and a man in white underwear kneeling in a praying position. You play the man in the underwear. The other characters will chase you and slap you to death if you let them get close to you. And that, people, is largely the (not so deep) plot.
Do NOT Drink the Water
The gameplay in House of Detention begins as your character wakes up in a place they don’t recognise. This is preceded by what seems to be recordings of speeches from Obama and Putin. Before you take control of your character, a message appears onscreen and is read out. One of the details that stuck out in my mind was the advice ‘not [to] expose your a** to the enemies’.
The Steam page description of one of your tasks is collecting ’18 mugs of water’. However, in the game, these ‘mugs of water’ are called cups of ‘hot load’. They contain white liquid. I’ll leave you for a moment to figure out what it’s meant to be. Got it? Yeah… gross.
A Soundtrack to Forget
As you run around, searching for ‘hot loads’ and ‘meme scrolls’ an odd mix of soundtracks accompanies you. It alternates between music fitting for an underground dive bar from the 80s and a bizarre 8-bit sounding organ track that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mario boss fight. The graphics that support this peculiar auditory offering are nothing ground-breaking. There’s a juxtaposition of some relatively detailed and some poor backgrounds. The characters all look like something from a late 90s video game.
In terms of being judged as a horror game, House of Detention has one moment in it that provides a jump scare. Without fail, even though I knew it was coming, every time I walked down a particular corridor I nearly flew out of my skin. However, one jump scare does not equate to a horror title in my eyes.
W A S D
House of Detention is not controller compatible but it is easy to navigate with a mouse and keyboard. I could not find a layout of the controls within the game’s menus but it does use a standard mouse/keyboard layout so it’s not difficult to get going quickly. In addition, if you can interact with an object, when you point the crosshair at it you see a picture of the ‘E’ key and a message saying ‘use’.
DLC for Adults Only
On the opening screen for House of Detention, you see the free ‘Right Version’ DLC advertised. It has an 18+ age recommendation. However (as I’ve previously mentioned) the game has no overall age rating. I find this quite bizarre considering the references made in the game. In my opinion, the main game content should be rated for adults as well. I opted not to download the ‘Right Version’; the basic version was enough for me.
I have no idea how the House of Detention awards achievements. There are no descriptions to help you work out how they are handed out. Even more confusing, the first time I opened the game I got six achievements. I hadn’t even started a play-through! When I did start playing, somehow, I earned a batch of achievements (around twenty) after only a few minutes. When I completed the game, I didn’t earn a single one.
Do Not Enter the Dungeon
This was my first experience of a meme game on Steam. I can’t really say that I’m eager to repeat it. Quite the opposite in fact. It took me about half an hour to complete House of Detention (less if you take away the time I spent taking screenshots) and I can’t see a reason to go back and play again. There’s nothing to collect and nothing compelling or interesting about it that draws you back in. I think that this game targets a particularly specific audience. If you have no idea what the ‘Gachimuchi’ meme is (and maybe even if you do) I’d give this one a miss.
Rapid Reviews Rating
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